Just a 10 minute walk from the Yongsan Electronics Market, on the campus of Sacred Heart Girls High School (Seongsim Yeogo), is one of Seoul’s hidden treasures, the Yongsan Seminary and Wonhyoro Catholic Church.
The church itself isn’t big—it’s little more than a chapel built for the former seminary next door. But it sits on the slope of a hill overlooking Yongsan (and the nearby Danggogae Martyrs Shrine), so it leaves a more majestic impression. The church, said to have been designed by Father Eugene Coste of the Paris Foreign Missions Society, was completed in 1902 (after Coste’s death), making it one of the oldest churches in the country.
The interior is really worth seeing. It’s small, of course, but it’s old, and feels it. Really nice vibe. Interestingly, Korea’s first priest, Father Kim Dae-geun, was buried here until 1942.
Next to the church is the old Yongsan Seminary. Completed in 1892 and designed by Father Coste, the handsome Georgian-style structure is one of Korea’s earliest examples of Western architecture. The seminary moved to Hyehwa-dong in 1928, and the building became a rest facility for priests. In 1956, it was taken over by the Society of the Sacred Heart, who to this day run the girls school on whose campus the old seminary stands. It’s now a museum (and was undergoing repairs when I visited, so I couldn’t look inside).
Lots of flowers about, of course.
Like I said, the church and seminary are no more than a 10-minute walk from Yongsan Electronics Market, so if you’re in the area, it’s more than worth a visit.